Being Ambassadors for Christ
An ambassador is “a diplomatic official of the highest rank, sent by one sovereign or state to another as its resident representative.” What an amazing vocation God has given us! As heaven’s citizens who have been rescued from the kingdom of darkness, we have been called to bear light to a world perishing in darkness. We are children of the light and have been commissioned by our Sovereign King to represent Him in hostile territory. The honor and dignity of such a post is tremendous.
Paul explains that God makes His appeal to the world through us, “ambassadors for Christ.” Our message to the world is, “We implore you on the behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2Cor 5:20 ESV). Every believer has the honor of reaching out to a dying world, alienated from God because of sin. Although not all are called to publicly preach the gospel message, we are all called to represent Christ; our lives should reflect His life and love in such a way that sinners are drawn to Him through us.
Proclaiming the Gospel
Preaching God’s Word is a great responsibility and should not be taken lightly. It is not a casual matter to stand between the living and the dead. Preaching is not a competitive talent show. It is a very solemn charge. Paul said to Timothy, “Preach the Word” (2Tim 4:2). We must be true to the Word. We must be real and forthright. We must be compassionate and tender. If we are, as Peter says, to be “the oracle” or mouthpiece of God, then we must spend time with God and preach in His strength alone.
Those who stand with God’s Word must be men of prayer. Spending time in the Master’s presence is absolutely essential. If we do not quiet ourselves before God and sit at His feet, we will be prone to preach on our own strength rather than His. Don’t forget, we are in enemy territory and this battle is a spiritual one. The enemy will do his best to hinder the cause of the gospel. The prayers of the sisters are vitally important. The one who speaks from the platform needs the support of prayer throughout the meeting. Although the sisters do not speak publicly, they can have incredible impact on the public meetings through their prayers. It’s good when the names of the scheduled Sunday gospel speakers are mentioned ahead of time, so that the entire assembly can pray in advance. In Ephesians 6 the Apostle Paul emphasized the need for believers to pray that God would give him courage as he preached. As we pray for the preacher, we are united with him in his efforts and we are strengthened together. As the preacher prays, his prayers not only impact the delivery of the message, they also transform the messenger.
Preaching with Clarity
The gospel is good news which needs to be communicated faithfully, clearly, and in an interesting manner. The speaker must preach the truth with love and grace. He must remain faithful to the Word of God. The message is one of grace, joy, mercy, and love, but it is also a message of truth, and we need to carefully weave the solemn issues of the gospel into our message in such a way that sinners are drawn to our Savior. It is against the backdrop of personal sin and rebellion against God that the good news shines forth. There is a need for sensitivity and carefulness in allowing God’s Word to convict the sinner without causing unnecessary offense. The goal of our preaching is that God would use it to bring about repentance and salvation.
Don’t assume the audience is familiar with the Bible. Many people have grown up with little or no Biblical teaching. Terms which are familiar to us may be foreign to them. Be careful to clarify and explain any words that may be new to someone hearing the gospel for the first time. The gospel is for all, but the particular needs of our audience varies.
The Bible is a wealth of truth; use it. The picture book of the Old Testament, the life of Christ with His teaching, His parables and miracles, His interaction with individual sinners, as well as the clear truths of specific verses can all be used to communicate the message. God has chosen to use us, with our diversity of backgrounds, ways of thinking and styles of presentation, to convey the glorious truth of God.
Defending the Truth
In the book of Acts, the messages of both Peter and Paul include a defense of the faith. When you are preaching, it is essential to use Scripture to substantiate any assertions you make. You may not be able to give an in-depth apologetic message, but you do need to be able to give a basic defense of the faith. Excellent books on this have been written by authors such as Josh McDowell, Norman Geisler, Lee Strobel, C. S. Lewis, Ravi Zacharias, and many others. As we preach the truth, we also need to be prepared to defend it.
Preaching with Passion
Do you believe what you are preaching? This is a matter of life and death, of heaven and hell. You need to convey through your preaching that this message means everything to you. The people in your audience mean so much to your Savior that He was willing to suffer incredible agony to provide their salvation. How much do they mean to you? Ask God to help you to love them with His love. Ask Him to help you to preach with passion. “He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psa 126:6 ESV). The audience will not remember everything you say (one analyst assessed it at about 3%) but they will leave with an impression. Make sure they leave knowing that they are loved and that both you and God desire the redemption of their souls.
God promises that His Word “shall accomplish” that which He purposes and “shall succeed” in the thing for which He sent it (Isa 55:11). When God’s Word is faithfully preached there will always be fruit, regardless of whether or not we see the fruit ourselves. It is God’s work, to be done in His strength and for His glory. We need to be content to sow the seed and leave the results with God.